Another from the “Ask a Former Jehovah’s Witness” mailbag:
My father was disfellowshipped when he was a teen in the 80’s and because of that he and his father do not speak. Ever. Are there any scriptural sources that I could use when speaking to my grandfather about this that would show this is wrong? When I talk with him about it he starts spewing scripture. Previous to July 2002 it was said that “Those who simply cease to be involved in the faith are not shunned. In compliance with the Scriptures, however, members can be expelled for serious unchristian conduct, such as stealing, drunkenness, or adultery, if they do not repent and cease such actions. Disfellowshipping does not sever family ties.” -www.watchtowerinformationservice.org/- I feel as if my family is being torn apart because of this religion and would like any advice you have to give. Thank you for your time. – Steve B
Your options are limited. Focus on love. You might mention the signs of the spirit (patience, kindness, etc). “Forgive as you would be forgiven” is a central tenet of biblical faith. You could invoke the primary message of Jesus, talk about “he who is without sin, cast the first stone.” I would avoid a scriptural discussion, however – he’s too well-prepared and defended for that kind of discussion.
The Jehovah’s Witness group is controlled by a very authoritarian – even totalitarian – organization, and therefore the average JW compartmentalizes things according to a priority of values that puts everything else below the directives of the Governing Body. If New York tells them to avoid your father, that’s just what they’ll do. This is one of the most heartbreaking things about this group, and I wish I had more to offer in the way of strategies.
Unfortunately, for most JWs nothing on earth is more important than securing their place for eternal life on a paradise earth. They don’t seem to understand that a lack of love is the surest way to separate oneself from God, the cosmos, the family, and everything else. He may try to tell you that he does this out of love, that the lack of association is a disciplinary measure to bring your father back into the fold. It won’t be at all obvious to him that this is completely antithetical to Jesus’ message.
Maybe you could get the discussion off religion entirely and talk about the pain and suffering that this is causing you and the rest of the family. Maybe your grandfather’s love for you might be strong enough to override, at least to some degree, his indoctrination. You might also remind him that each person’s spiritual path is their own, and that God sees into the heart. Judge not, lest you be judged.
I don’t have much hope for your success, but it is worth a concerted effort. You never know – maybe you will plant a small seed of cognitive dissonance by being more loving than he is. Take the highest road you can.
I sense your pain and anguish, and I wish kindness, gentleness, and healing for you and your family.